My (not so) secret recipe for the Perfect Headshot

I believe everyone should have the best possible chance at creating a winning headshot, which is why I coach my clients from the moment we book, right through to the end of their session. The whole process starts with one simple statement that I ask everyone to answer before we start to plan our session.

“I would hire (me), if I were looking for (…)”

Unless you know the answer to that statement, how can you be sure it’s what you will project in your headshots? This is where my whole process starts and once you know what ‘type’ you are we add my recipe for a successful session.

1. Add a good helping of Honesty

Your expression should be real, so we start by finding your neutral point and do small variations around that. Expression should be effortless, trying too hard can come across fake, or overzealous neither are qualities of a professional actor that has the skills and experience to deliver a believable performance.

I like to keep backgrounds simple this is to reduce the look of it being too much like a photo shoot. This, together with how I use light during a session produces a look like a still taken whilst on set.

Finally retouching is light, removing anything temporary like spots, a nik from shaving or something that would be removed with make up whilst on set.

2. Fold your ingredients Effortlessly

Once you have a grasp of your natural expression we find a rhythm and make small changes, by the end of the session you’re doing this without thinking.

We try to capture your image as if you are on set (a production still). These shots are invariably captured whilst you are working and you don’t really think too much about it at the time. In these images you’re not trying too hard in front of the camera and so it looks natural and effortless.

It’s plausible that the image wasn’t taken from an actual headshot session. This is what we hope to achieve during the session.

3. Finish with a Personal touch

It’s very important that you bring something into the shot, something of you that we can identify with, this will be different for everyone.

Perhaps its your charm or wit, your fragility, gravitas or warmth.

There’s no room for bland, safe, neutral headshots in this industry. They should be something that makes you stand out, competitive and should always relate to my initial question – ‘I would hire (me) if I were looking for a (…)’.

5 Reasons why you should have a great business headshot

It is well documented that we are in the digital age right now, customers flocking online to research and find out more about you and your company before they commit to buy or even before they contact you.  If you and your business have an online presence, it’s vital to get that first impression right.  So I’m going to share 5 reasons why you should have a great headshot!

1. What do you look like?

Have you ever attended a meeting, course, conference or even lunch and had no idea what your contact looked like?  Or worse still, not recognised them immediately because their Twitter profile photograph is of them on the beach with sunglasses on?  Without someone introducing you, for example a mutual business partner or receptionist, how will your clients recognise you?

2. Are you even real?

You have less chance of connecting with a prospective client online with the stock “no image” or your own company logo than you would if you have a professional headshot.  This is because since the dawn of social media, we have been bombarded with spam accounts and fake followers.  This leads nicely on to the next reason why you should have a great headshot!

we want to get this right so that our connections will trust us, that we are genuine

3.  Can I trust you?

I spoke earlier about the first impression, we want to get this right so that our connections will trust us, that we are genuine, honest and that we deliver.  How many social media accounts have you passed up on because their image was taken at a social occasion, blatantly out of date, on holiday?  I have personally seen professional LinkedIn accounts where an individual has used an old infant photograph.  What message does that put out there for you?

4. Where else can I find you?

Person branding is important for tying your web presence all together.  That’s not to say that all your social media accounts need to be exactly the same, but they all need to be shot around the same time and be consistent in appearance.  There is a higher chance of a connection following you on Twitter, automatically adding you on other networks, simply because they found your profile image elsewhere.  If they have searched for you on Google, and trust me they will, Google will present them with images and in turn, they will link to other pages you appear on.  Consistency is key!

5. Can I use your image?

Finally, you never know when someone is going to ask you for a professional headshot to feature you or highlight your organisation, so it’s just a good idea to have one on hand!

If you’re looking for the official word on what’s appropriate, LinkedIn have published their guidelines on ensuring you are seen in the right light, you can read it here.  So they are my 5 top reasons, can you think of any?  Whats the best and the worse you’ve seen? (not naming names!)

5 Top Business Headshot tips

You are your own shop window for your career prospects, so in an age where your professional history is available at the click of a website, it’s vital that your online networking CV show you in your best light. It’s important to create the right image for your CV and professional networking profile.

I’d always recommend hiring a professional photographer, as time and money invested in your approach, will encourage employers to want to invest time and money in you. So how to start? Here are my five top tips:

Write a brief for your photographer

Before the day of the shoot, It will be important to make sure that your photographer knows as much about your expected outcomes as possible. What type of industry do you wish to work in? A corporate image will require different lighting and background to a more informal setting.

Dress like you already have the job

Clothing and mannerisms give HR Managers instant cues as to whether they feel a candidate is a good cultural fit for a job. Take time to think about your outfit for your photo shoot and think about how you want to stand, sit, lean. Your photographer will guide you on all of this and put you at ease, but it’s good to have an idea in mind of how you wish to be portrayed.

Relax and enjoy the time being photographed.

Don’t be too fashionable

Fashion moves so quickly, yet you might want to keep your professional photographs for a number of years. This is why I would recommend keeping clothing and accessory fairly neutral, along with hairstyles and makeup that might look out of place within the next few years

Wear the right shoes (or none at all)

Again, this is something that your photographer will guide you on, but wearing uncomfortable shoes will have an awkward knock-on effect through your entire body when posing, especially if you are a bit nervous! Try and feel as comfortable as possible, relax and enjoy the time being photographed.

Don’t be afraid to ask!

If you have an idea of how you wish to stand, or a certain location you want to use, make sure you suggest it to the photographer for their expert input. The outcome of any professional shoot should leave you with a product you’ll be proud to use, and this is always the result of teamwork between the photographer and client.

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